Mohegan Sun—If the Connecticut Sun has any aspirations on playing in the WNBA Finals they have to find a way to defend the perimeter and paint better.
Candace Parker scored 22 points, Courtney Vandersloot handed out a WNBA playoff-record 18 assists, the sixth-seeded Chicago Sky beat the top-seeded Connecticut Sun, 101-95, in double overtime to open their semifinal series in Uncasville, Connecticut Tuesday night at the Mohegan Sun.
Vandersloot had the second triple-double in the postseason with 12 points, she was a one man wrecking show for Chicago.
“She’s amazing,” Chicago coach James Wade said. “Look at the stat sheet and the way she controlled the game. She was able to control the game from the beginning to the end. She had a special game. One of the best point guard games in playoff history. I’m not surprised because this is what she does.”
Vandersloot didn’t know about her historic stats. She was just focused and vying on the win.
“It’s really special. I didn’t know I had the triple-double until the end,” Vandersloot said.
Sheryl Swoopes had the only other triple-double in WNBA playoff history, which she did September 3, 2005.
“She’s elite. To be with that company, that’s obviously special,” Vandersloot said. “To do it in the playoffs, I needed 50 minutes to do it.”
With the game knotted at 93, Parker scored on a layup off a nice pass for Vandersloot’s record-breaking assist. Vandersloot, who broke Sue Bird’s mark of 16 set last postseason, then threw a slick pass to Stefanie Dolson to give the Sky a four-point lead with 1:29 left in the game.
The Sun went super cold scoring only its second basket of the second OT on Brionna Jones’ jumper with 13.7 seconds left that made it 98-95. Vandersloot got her 10th rebound with 7.9 seconds remaining on the clock.
“She orchestrates everything out there,” Connecticut coach Curt Miller said. “She’s so good with the basketball. Huge game for her. We have to look at different ways to disrupt her. That’s Slooty. That’s what we think about her each and every night, she has the ability to just orchestrate everything.”
Jonquel Jones, who was honored as the league’s MVP before the game, led Connecticut with 26 points and 11 boards. Brionna Jones, who earned Most Improved Player honors as well, chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, which lost only one game at home during the regular season in route to the league’s best record.
The Sky led 47-46 at halftime.
This was the league’s first double-overtime playoff game since 2015 between the Washington Mystics and the New York Liberty.
“I’m disappointed with the end result, but a great game to start the semifinals,” Miller said. “I think there was 14 lead changes, 15 ties. We get a double-overtime game in Game 1. Really good game to start for the WNBA.”
Jones’ reverse layup put Connecticut up 90-89 with 1:50 remaining in the first overtime. Copper’s sharp cut layup with 46.4 seconds to play gave Chicago the lead at 91-89.
Brianna January made one of two free throws with 25.1 ticks left on the clock to tie it at 91 and force double overtime.
Both teams had chances to close the game out before the second OT. Connecticut’s Jones missed a pull-up jumper at the free throw line with 31.1 seconds to go, and the Sky sealed the game at the charity stripe.
“This is playoff time. This is what we want,” Vandersloot said. “I had no idea I had a triple-double. I have so many threats around me. I was just trying to be aggressive.”
Allie Quigley scored 19 points and Kahleah Copper chipped in 13 for the Sky (16-16). Chicago have won three straight playoff games after earning single-elimination victories over the Dallas Wings and Minnesota Lynx to reach the semifinals.
Game 2 is Thursday in Connecticut before the series shifts to Chicago for potentially the next two games.